The Best Ideas Are Those Cooked to Perfection

The Best Ideas Are Those Cooked to Perfection

The best Ideas take time to make. Like a perfect vintage of wine. Effort, time, and luck.


There’s a handful of times a good idea has struck me. Just a few. But I think back now. Was it really luck that idea came to me? Probably. Destiny? Maybe. But there were people that seemed to have good ideas on a regular basis.


How could I become one of those people? How did I have good ideas? Would I have better ideas if I intended to? There was only one way to find out.


How I created fertile ground for good ideas?


Good wine starts with good grapes. These come from fertile ground.


I try to set the right atmosphere for great ideas. Remove distractions. Water the ground. Remove the weeds. Pray for a great harvest. The rest of those early times our out of our control.


I have two separate processes for this depending on the types of ideas that I am trying to have. Am I trying to come up with an idea that is outside of my comfort zone or an idea for a subject or process that I already know?


I try to set up the environment to match this process. If I’m working on a current project such as a blog post or a new video. Something that is a continuation of a current project then I’ll go to a familiar spot. Set up for comfort. Somewhere I know well. The rest of the process is the same.


Turn off notifications. Block off some time on my calendar. Free me from distractions or what I call mental weeds. They come up and choke life and sustenance from our fertile ground. Then do the hard part. Sit there in silence and think.


Now if I’m trying something new, a new project. Something outside of my comfort zone. I’ll try to go to a new place. I don’t have much space in my small apartment so will try working somewhere different.


Maybe I’ll stand instead of sitting. Or sit on the ground. Usually, the ground is left for serious problems when all the other places aren’t working. When was the last time you sat on the ground? I rarely do. It really feels different. 


We have the most control in the beginning. Think about a color. I’ll wait. What was it? Why did you think about that color? Now think about another. What color was it? Any idea why that one came up instead of green. Or maybe it was green. Why wasn’t it blue?


What comes to us after we sit down, we have little control over. But our mental state and environment at least we have a little power over.

Learning from Books

Feed your creativity


Great wine comes from happy grapes. You can’t just plant in the best ground and expect good grapes to pop up. You have to be careful with what you feed it. From the day the seeds go in till the day you pick them, the nutrients you give it will affect its taste.


So how do we feed our brain so that it has good ideas? You feed it with good ideas from other people. Something challenging. Or maybe outside of your knowledge base. I try to read, listen, and watch stuff from wide array sources. Of course, there are a few from stuff that I’m trying to learn.


For example, I listen to a bunch of podcasts on medicine to keep my skills sharp. But even then I try to keep it varied. I’ll listen to internal medicine podcasts. ER doc podcasts, critical care.


I also listen to podcasts on online marketing or history. You never know what can spark a good idea so I try to keep the nutrients that I feed my brain well-diversified.


On the other side, I also try to limit the junk food that I give my brain. I limit the amount of TV I watch and am more intentional with where I get any of my inputs.


That’s not to say all TV is bad. It’s more likely that I’d get a spark for a good idea from an article from a blog I follow or a podcast than I would from a TV show.


Sometimes it’s not enough


Now you’ve started off with fertile ground. Fed your brain the best of nutrients and you’re sitting there without an idea at all. Sure, you may have some not so great ones. What should you do?


As much as I’d love to say there was a solution. There’s no way to force good ideas to come. Rain doesn’t come no matter how hard we wish it. 


We need to wait. Give it time. Some of my best ideas have come when I was doing something else. Not even thinking about what I needed to come up with an idea for. So what gives?


The missing ingredient needed was time. I needed to give my idea a chance to grow. My brain was working on coming up with a solution that I needed in the background. My grapes were growing. 


So how do I put this into practice? It means that I’m not waiting till the last minute. I need to sit down and work on my big projects on a regular basis and give my brain time to come up with the ideas I need.

The Most Important Life Skill They Don’t Teach You in School

The Most Important Life Skill They Don’t Teach You in School

The solution to most problems is a Google away. These days you can learn almost anything online. Pretty much any solution is a quick click away. You may even find a step-by-step guide on Youtube that details exactly how to solve your problem. Even the exams we take after we finish are open books.


Now think for a second. How many of your friends and family’s phone numbers do you know by heart? A couple? Probably less than ten. There’s no reason to memorize more than a few anymore.


We’ve been off-loading knowledge work to our phones. This also works with people. Couples who have been married together for a while will have difficulty remembering events that they went together in the past. The details of the events. Yet, if you ask about the event when they are both together. They will fill in each other’s memory blanks.


Our brains are lazy or efficient depending on how you look at it. They only store facts and memories that it thinks it’ll need in the future. It’ll archive or get rid of the rest.


So what do you do if you’ve forgotten something? Or never learned it in the first place?


Learning from Books

Learn to Google

Think when you want someone to search the internet for something, what do you tell them to do? Google it? Google is such a part of our culture that it encapsulates all internet searches.

I can’t tell you how often I’m able to find a solution to a problem I have at home or at work with a quick Google. Car showing a dashboard light? Google. Need to check the adverse effects of a medication? Google.

There is an art and skill to internet searches and it boils down to two factors:


1. Your initial search phrase

2. Picking the right result

The initial search phrase is made up of the words that you put into Google. If you were to put, car engine dash light you’ll get millions of results. While if you put: “Honda Accord 2012 yellow wheel dashboard button meaning”, you’ll have a much higher chance of getting the correct answer in the first few posts.

The more specific you are the better. I try to be as specific as I can and only be more generic if I don’t get many results. You also want to use words that are in the same domain as your problem. For example, if the icon on the dashboard in my car is a tire or wheel, I’d have much better results than if I typed in a yellow circle. Or a round thing.

Next, and as important is to pick the right result. Depending on what the problem is I’ll try to point it towards a certain direction. For simple things such as household or car issues, I’ll add the word forum. Or I’ll look for forum results. Forums are small communities usually of enthusiasts that help each other. I’d find the problem with my car on some type of Honda forum. Instead of looking for the forum directly, if I type my search into Google, It will look through many forums for me.

Now, instead, if I’m looking or a medical question then a forum won’t do. So I’ll add Google Scholar to the search phrase and be much more careful with the type of result that I pick. Often times, Google is even better than the search features on a website. So you’d be better off typing your search into google and adding the name of the website to your search phrase.

Of course, not everything is on Google. I won’t be able to find an exhaustive list of treatments for a rare disease for example. However, if I was able to just find a case report or two through Google. That’s enough. Then I’d be able to look at the references in that case report and be able to find more substantial research. I’ve saved countless hours using Google to start my medical research search than starting off with Pubmed.


Instead, had I gone to the library and tried to find the articles I needed, I could have been there all day and still not found what I needed. The power of Google and internet searches, in general, make learning how to use it by far one of the most important skills we have.


What Should You Learn Next?

What Should You Learn Next?

If you’re like me, you have a ton of different subjects that you’d love to learn. I have a 1400 page art history book that’s been sitting in my bookshelf for years. I’ll get to it one day.

So then how do decide what I should learn next? I have a couple of criteria that I look at:

  1. Is it interesting?
  2. Will it be applicable to more than one area of my life?
  3. Is it difficult to outsource?

I try to answer yes to all three questions before trying to learn it.

For the first part, is it interesting? There are countless subjects out there. I’ve realized that there’s no reason to force myself to learn something that doesn’t interest me. This is not to say that the subject isn’t interesting, just not to me.

If it doesn’t interest me, it’ll take way longer to learn. Learning is a lot of work. Why work so hard if it doesn’t interest me? I’ll not even keep much since I’ll have to force myself to get through it.

Next, will it be applicable to many areas of my life? I’m busy. I’m sure you’re busy as well. We love to multi-task, often to our determinant. I want to be able to apply whatever I learn in at least two aspects of my life, hopefully, all of them. For example, I could have learned how to create this website. It would have taken a few weeks. I could have even done it for free. YouTube is a treasure trove of educational videos.

But when would I need it again? A few more times in my life, if that. Instead, I picked up a book on writing. I know. You’re having flashbacks from high school English class. But, better writing would flow through everything I do. Even if this blog failed, if I became a better writer through it, I would consider it a success.

Finally, is it difficult to outsource? Prepare yourself, this is a little morbid. We only have a specific amount of time in this world. I’ve already gotten to the point in my life that I’ll read less than 1000 books. Less than 500? Who knows, even less? If the subject doesn’t interest me and it wouldn’t be applicable to many areas of my life, it’s much better to outsource.

The creation of this website was outsourced. Even better, I was able to find someone that was willing to teach me some of the basics. This way I could do a majority of the work on it myself after it was made. This saved me at least a couple weeks of time learning how to make a website and run it from the ground up. I was also able to hire him on an ongoing basis in case I break something.

There are other topics that I would say yes to the first two questions, but no to the last that I outsource. Well, with some sadness. There is too much to learn that I have to make sure that it meets all my criteria.

How to Learn Practically Anything Part 1

How to Learn Practically Anything Part 1

This will be the first of my three-part series on how to learn a new topic. Think about how you’ve learned most of your life. You were first exposed to a topic in a classroom. You took notes, studied them, and sometimes even did your homework. You studied because you wanted to pass and potentially get into a better school.

As soon as you’re tested on the material, you forget it and hope you won’t be tested on it again. Sound familiar? I call this first part of learning structured learning and it’s how practically all of us learned anything.

It worked fairly well. I mean look at us, here we are with fancy letters behind our names. Well, now you have something outside your career you want to learn about. Maybe it’s about a business you’d like to start or you have some money and would like to figure out where to invest it. Or just something for fun.

You go to start learning like you always do, and, uh, where’s the classroom? You find that some community colleges have a class that you might be interested in, but how are you going to go with a full-time job?


This is one of the first problems with structured learning. It requires structure. Class starts at a certain time and assignments and tests are also on a certain schedule. The other is the price. If you remember your grad school days, none of those classes were very cheap. It’s even more expensive if you want to go back and take classes after you graduate


Fortunately, there has been a quiet revolution in education in the past few years. Online classes. Now you don’t have to hope to get the one passionate professor. We can all take her class. Many classes are even asynchronous meaning that you can take them at your own time. The four-week class starts when you start.

The cost is often a fraction of what you would pay for a full class at a college or university. You can get classes as low as $47 and many of them will have online virtual office hours just like you would have if you were taking an in-person class. The course may also have another benefit that we will see in the next two steps.

Online classes are a step in the right direction, allowing you to break apart structured learning to something that fits your schedule. Another good option is to find a beginner’s books. For example, when I wanted to start investing in real estate, I did a quick search and asked around for what Real estate books people would recommend and just got the top 1-2 books. After reading them, I felt fairly comfortable moving on to the next step in my learning process.

The first part of learning is just to get a framework. Learn the basics. Understand the language of the subject. In the next two parts, we will apply that knowledge and get feedback.